FORT BENNING, Ga., (Aug. 7, 2013) -- Teachers, principals and staff from across post gathered Thursday to kick off the school year, which began Tuesday.

"We say that our Army is the team of teams and that also applies to our schools," said Col. Michail Huerter, Fort Benning garrison commander and guest speaker. "To have good quality schools and well-adjusted students, we must work together as a team -- teachers, parents, community and command -- just like an Army unit. Our schools cannot function properly if one part of the team is missing or lagging behind. And like an Army unit, our schools are only as strong as the weakest team member. That's why programs like Partners in Education are so important. They get parents, commanders and folks from on and off post involved in what our kids are doing."

Christy Cabezas, the superintendent of the Georgia and Alabama district likened the schools strategy for success as the v-formation that geese do when flying south.

"Did you know that when a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and the resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly has to get back in formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird that's immediately in front?" She asked.

It was important, she said, to find what unites everyone to complete their mission of educating students.

"One thing that unites all of us is that we have a common mission," she said. "When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back to the wings and another goose flies point. It pays to take turns doing difficult jobs. We all know that school years can be long and difficult. Lean on each other, help each other (and) identify collective commitments."

And even through uncertain fiscal times, Huerter said, the garrison command team will continue to work with schools to ensure a great education for students.

"We're all having to make adjustments and I appreciate all of your flexibility," he said. "And I know how difficult it can be to have to do more with less. And you are all doing an outstanding job."

Department of Defense Education Activity teachers will take five furlough days. On those days, schools will be closed.

Cabezas said the seven schools had a very successful 2012-2013 school with year with many awards, including the top Partners in Education Award and high scores on the TerraNova test. She attributed it to teachers teaching the whole child.

"The amount of work each of you put in every day to make sure our students have the best schools and education possible -- it is truly inspiring," Huerter said.